April Tasting Recap
<A monthly round up of the goings on at G+C>
The beginning of April found Jay in Bordeaux at En Primeur where he toured an average of 13 chateaux a day. Here’s what he had to say about it….
This was the year I finally went to Bordeaux to witness the hoopla and ceremony of the EP campaign. Ginsberg + Chan has never taken part in selling EP before and probably never will. We have always been of mind that if you are going to spend hard earned money on a wine you should be able to take possession of it immediately, after all this is wine, not an off plan real estate investment.
Secondly there are too many other merchants doing it with more experience than we had. We just didn’t feel comfortable selling a product we knew very little about. In fact, most people still no very little about it and rely on numerous critics scores to help them sell a wine that is not even ready or showing it’s true potential. To me this is a very important point. Judging a wine EP is like looking at a 10 month old baby and forming an opinion on how he or she may look in 20 years’ time. Slight exaggeration but you get the point. The wine at this early stage is incredibly young so you get tons of volatility, huge amounts of tannins and even bottle variation. In fact the weather at the time of tasting can even affect how a wine shows, not to mention your own mood at the time of tasting. Go back in the afternoon and it may be slightly different again from when you had it in the morning. Of course you can tell if the wine has good fruit and structure but a lot can change over the next 18 months in barrel and bottle. Just look at Parker’s indicative scores from EP tastings vs his scores 2 years later when the wines have been released in bottle. A lot of wines given high scores in barrel are often lowered when the wine is finally tasted in bottle. Of course the reverse can also be true but is it worth the risk?
One of the main reasons I really wanted to go to Bordeaux this year was to see and hear firsthand from the people on the ground if this is truly a pivotal year for the whole EP system. I believe it is broken. The end customer in Asia and North America is completely ambivalent to buying EP. The Chateau don’t appear to recognize this. When you bring up the subject of how the customers feel stung from overpriced wines of the last few years there is a real sense of complacency. Most only want to talk about the quality of the wine and improvements made to the Chateau such as huge new renovation projects by superstar architects. That’s all great for the Chateau owners but it does little for the quality of the wine.
The bottom line is they must try to bring the end buyer back into the game on price. If they do not then the whole system is finished.
What I loved…
I only tasted about 100 wines this trip either directly at the Chateau or at the UGC tastings. Overall I thought the quality was good but not great. I tasted more bad wines than good and many of them I skipped making notes altogether. Not to sound snobbish but I just couldn’t find anything worth writing about when they are so young, tannic and unbalanced. I will wait until the wine is in the bottle and less volatile then I can actually make an educated note that will have more value.
My very top pick for reds went to Vieux Chateau Certan(JG97) of Pomerol. This wine was all about perfume, pure red fruits, complex subtle spices and delicate silky texture. Even this young it was extremely well balanced with correct tannins to hold it all together. It’s a not a showy wine at all and is more about elegance and Alexandre Thienpont described the wine as “Haut cuisine”. If you are a Burgundy fan you would appreciate this wines finesse.
It was a similar story and in order of preference at these other Pomerol Chateau. La Conseillante (JG95), L’Eglise Clinet (93) and Clinet (92). Clinet being the boldest of the group it also has terrific fruit and more of a punch than La Conseillante which is lighter in weight and density. L’Eglise Clinet shared all the pretty perfumed aromas of VCC but a little less balanced at this stage. I think all of these wines will be beautiful in 10-15 years.
On the Left Bank I think the best wines came from the farthest north up the Medoc in St Estephe. One of the first wines we tasted were St Estephe, Cos d’Estournel (93) and Calon Segur (92). All showed excellent fruit and nice tannins with very nice long finish. I really enjoyed Chateau Lafite (96) for its blackberry, fruitcake, spice, olive and light weight. If they get the price right this could be one to buy. Mouton was underwhelming and Latour (95) was nice but as it’s not part of the EP campaign any longer so not worth going into detail. I thought Palmer (93) was better than Margaux (92) but neither were exceptional in my opinion so unless the price is generously low I won’t recommend. My favourite wine tasted the whole trip though was the Pavillon Blanc (98). It has very intense aromatics of citrus, grapefruit and some creamy tropical fruit. The palate is generous and I could have drank a bottle easily right then and there! It was fantastic and given its limited production could be worth buying. This should be up there with the classics of white Bordeaux.
Across the pond, I spent the Easter and the Ching Ming holiday in Napa and Sonoma. Opus One was immaculate & a great tour, where I got my nails a little dirtier digging in the dirt and fawning over the Pinots and Chardonnay over at Littorai & Radio Coteau.
Back in Hong Kong we kicked off our April Wednesday Sessions with Premium White Burgundy. Ooo la la. If ever we needed proof of the longevity and sheer deliciousness of aged white wine, this tasting was surely it. This is why we cellar!
While Allen Meadows of the BurgHound was in town, Mandy and Jay attended the gala dinner where there was no shortage of over the top world class blow your socks off wines. You’ll have to ask them about it the next time you’re in the shop.
Fridays tend to find a bottle or two open in the Tasting Room and April 17th was no exception. First up the 2007 Bruno Giacosa Spumante Extra Brut proved a refreshing and much more interesting answer to Prosecco.
We also opened an odd bottle that came through. The 1972 Marques de Riscal should, by all accounts, be red but in this bottle the color had bonded to the tannins and sank right to the bottom leaving it colorless. Has anyone encountered this before? Upon tasting we realized this was not just an issue of color & texture, but one of flavor as well. Proof that wine is, in fact, alive.
The following Friday was an unexpected reminder of why Fridays at G+C rock. Jay opened up a 2000 Rosso Venezia IGT from Gravner who is famous for his tannic amphora fermented whites. Hedonistic and full of bright flavors, this Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot demonstrates Gravner is not a one trick pony. Great juice.
Later we were lucky enough to try 1997 Pierre Morey Montrachet Grand Cru (wow), 1967 Rinaldi Barolo (double wow- this was perfect!!!), and 2004 Morey St Denis Domaine des Lambrays (earthy & full of ladybugs according to some).
Saturday, April 25th, was the first annual Taste & Buy Market. We had over 100 people through to taste our 31 of favorite summer wines. Be sure to check out tasting notes and our scores below!
Our final Wednesday tasting saw 6 different wines from across the Nuits St Georges. Each was a stellar representation of why we love the masculine yet refined Pinots from these ancient vineyards. You can read the full review of these exemplary wines here.
And finally, the last sip of the month was the sherry butter, orange rind, apricot laden 2001 Fontaine Gagnard Batard Montrachet Grand Cru. Not a bad end to this well oiled month.
You can see the notes for all wines tasted this month below.
TASTED THIS MONTH
2004 Gosset Grand Millesime Brut WS94 LM90+ Creamy nose filled with vanilla brioche, apples, pears, white pepper, and hints of almond. Fresh acidity is met with a slightly bitter finish with flavors of green apple, nuts, and vanilla. A slightly masculine Champagne proving to be excellent value. Now 5+
2005 Ramonet Bienvenue Batard Montrachet Grand Cru BH93 LM94 Golden color. Deep and rich aromas of butter, dried flowers, bees wax, & spice interlaced with citrus fruit. This wine is all about mouth coating texture in all its full viscous glory. Full and concentrated with a long finish and massive potential. This is still quite youthful and would benefit from decanting and a few hours to open. Now 10+
2003 Jean Marc Boillot Batard Montrachet Grand Cru BH92 LM90 Big nose of popcorn-y butter, vanilla, and hints of golden delicious apple. The palate was a bit tight yet was lifted with big acidity. Full bodied with energy a long creamy warm finish. This, too, would benefit from more air time before enjoyment. Now 5+
1998 Pierre Morey Batard Montrachet Grand Cru LM93 Many taster’s favorite of the evening. A stunningly decadent wine! Golden orange color with bees wax, honey, burnt sugar, dried vanilla pods, and caramel on the nose. I could sit and smell this all day. Big acidity was met with big round texture and a great finish. Now
1995 Jacques Prieur Montrachet Grand Cru WA97 LM97+ Hands down my wine of the night (year!), this was absolutely everything a great aged Burgundy white should be. Burnt orange in color with a nose that would not quit. First there were notes of sherry, almonds, hazelnuts, wax, cheese rind, and with time it opened into exotic fruits and dried apricots. The palate was filled with sweet dried fruit and pressed oranges yet felt restrained and perfectly in balance. Immense depth with a seemingly endless finish, wow. Now
1988 Coche Dury Meursault CT92 LM93 This was the majority’s favorite wine of the night. A rich nose filled with butter, spice, and intense citrus. The palate was marked by its massive acidity and, I quote, “awesome texture.” The flavor profile totally undermined its nearly 30 years of age and this will surely keep drinking well into the next 10 or so years. Now 5+
1979 Louis Carillon Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes 1er Cru LM97+ For me this is what aged white wines are all about. Orange in color with a sublime nose filled with cider, caramel, Christmas spice, baked oranges, apricot, nuts, and apple core…. Although there was definitely some apple present, the dominant flavors were those of cider and spice, clear indicators of aging gracefully into meditative bliss. I love this wine. Now.
2012 Mas Doix Les Crestes WA94 VL a lovely fruity wine with good acidity from such high percentage of Garnacha. Loads of fresh red fruits and hints of floral (roses). Very easy drinking in such young age and great value for its quality. Good food wine.
2007 Bruno Giacosa Spumante Extra Brut LM89 Aromas of vanilla, cedar, and custard with hints of white pepper. Refreshing palate with clean mineral and saline flavors behind red apples and stone fruit. A great summer appertif! Now 3+
2008 Hubert Lignier Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Didiers LM90 Great nose of smoke, pressed violets, dark fruit, warm oak, and forest-y, earthy, masculine notes. Nice structure! Balanced wine with fresh acidity, tart cherry and cranberry notes, chalky tannins, and a sour finish. This is drinking well now and will certainly continue to improve for years to come. Classic.
2008 J.F. Mugnier Nuits St Georges Clos la Marechale 1er Cru LM89 Most of the tasters preferred this to the Hubert Lignier (I preferred HL). A sweeter nose with sweet oak, touches of earth, cranberry, sweet juicy purple & red fruit, sweet plum, violets, and cherry. The palate exhibited great intensity and length and was quite a bit more feminine than the Hubert Lignier. Backward tannins with warm alcohol and lingering floral notes; this will continue to age beautifully.
2007 J.F. Mugnier Nuits St Georges Clos la Marechale 1er Cru LM88 Red fruit, smoke, and some forest-y farm-y funk, this had a great nose. The palate was a bit light with flavors of tea and some sweet fruits. This is drinking well now but will not improve with any further aging as it just doesn’t have the structure or depth of fruit to endure. Drink up!
2006 J.F. Mugnier Nuits St Georges Clos la Marechale 1er Cru LM92 Intensely delicious nose of smokey caramel, popcorn, & dark dense plum. Still quite youthful with powerful chalky tannins, warm alcohol, and great concentration of fruit. This is great now and will certainly continue to age and improve. Classic Nuits St Georges and many people’s wine of the night.
1999 Faiveley Nuits St Georges Clos la Marechale 1er Cru LM92+ Sous bois, hints of pool toy, dark smoke, black currant, forest, graphite, mineral, and wonderfully intense and manly aromas. Balanced with firm yet well integrated tannins and a mineral laden finish. This is super drinkable now but still has the structure to endure. I <3 aged Burgundy.
1990 Jayer Gilles Nuits St Georges Les Hauts Poirets LM93 Caramel, smoke, canned tomato, nuts, sweet marzipan- this has a wild but totally exciting nose. Great flavors and structure with big tannins, fresh acidity, and cool savoury flavors. This would be brilliant with pizza. Concentrated and deep and almost like and aged Italian for its savoury notes. Cool!
Friday in the office
2000 Gravner Rosso Venezia IGT WS87 LM92+ Inky purple with intense aromatics of boisenberry, black plums, currants, blackberries, dried strawberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, brownie batter, and an undercurrent of savoury notes- pine resin and cedar. The palate proved just as intense with vibrant fruit flavors, high acidity, well integrated soft tannins, and dark hedonistic finish. Really interesting and a step outside the ordinary.
1997 Pierre Morey Montrachet Grand Cru WA90-93 LM94 Golden orange in color. Candied & caramelized aromas of cider, dried flowers, vanilla, sweet fruit core with smoke hints. Something very comforting. Big acidity with lovely honey, pollen, savory earthy flavors, dried orange rind and a touch of cream. Slightly bitter finish. This is what aged whites are all about.
1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo LM96 Absolutely a star. Perfect condition and the epitome of what aged Barolo should be. Leather, dusty floral notes, and mushroom aromas are met with silky integrated tannins. This wine has a feeling of completeness and was exactly wonderful.
2001 Domaine Fontaine Gagnard Batard Montrachet Grand Cru LM90 Nose of sherry & butter opening into apricots, honey, pollen and hay. The huge acidity is met with a soft luscious texture, and generous flavors or butter, popcorn, apple core, and a smokey alcohol driven back palate. The finish is quite bitter suggesting this is a great food wine.
2011 Sette Ponti Oreno JS96 LM92 Big nose dominated by black and red fruits. On the palate the wine is soft, smooth, totally accessible with pleasantly chalky tannins, and great balance. A high quality wine showing excellent value for money.
2010 Azelia Barolo JS92 LM90 Many of our taster’s favorite market wine. Great aromas of flowers and berries. The palate has great development of flavors, big late coming tannins, and fresh acidity. An approachable young Barolo.
2012 Tenuta San Guid Le Difese JS92 LM90 The 3rd wine from the producers of Sassicaia. Orginally this expressed dark berries and real density of aromas with a soft palate. As it opened over the next couple of days the aromas expressed more bramble, smoke, and jammy fruit. The 70/30 Cab Merlot blend also expressed more chocolate and herbal notes on the palate. Great balance and will be enjoyed now and for years to come. Super value!
2011 Domaine Grand Nicolet Cuvee Vieilles Vignes (Rasteau) WA92+ LM89 Funky, forest floor, bright red berry nose. Lots of sweet fruits on the palate with well integrated tannin. A great wine for Grenache lovers
2012 Domaine Grand Nicolet Les Esqueyrons (Rasteau) WA94 LM92 Complex aromas of sous bois, cassis, and blackberries with enticing floral notes. The palate is filled with dark fruit, full body, big alcohol, and just the right amount of tannin. A great BBQ wine.
2004 La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva WA96 LM94+ A typical Rioja nose filled with sweet oak, vanilla, and spices interlaced with earthy red fruit. Creamy palate with a deliciously savoury tomato note that comes with oxidative aging. Exceptional traditional Rioja.
2011 Billaud Simon Chablis Tete d’Or BH89 LM89+ A striking contrast to the regular Chablis, the Tete d’Or was ripe with fruit but also had tons of fresh lime, lemongrass, and fresh minerality. A stunning summer white.
2012 Billaud Simon Chablis BH89 LM90 A creamy Chablis with ripe fruit and beautifully minerality. Great intensity and balance. This far outperforms its class and price!
2011 Billaud Simon Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru BH93 LM92 Creamy, long, full. A complete Chablis for its mouth coating texture, ripe and enticing stone fruit flavors, creaminess, and long finish.
1946 Don PX Convento Seleccion Bodegas Toro WA100 LM95 Raisins, balsamic, brownie batter, hazelnuts and almonds. Huge acidity. Syrupy texture and sweetness. Warm alcohol. Absolutley stunning as a dessert or an ice cream topper.